Egypts boy king takes on Chinas first emperor in a contest to see wholl rule Atlantas historical art scene. It may be a mismatch to compare the lavish touring Tutankhamun show, on view at the Atlanta Civic Center until May 25, with the High Museums smaller-scale but still impressive The First Emperor (through April 19). Nevertheless, King Tut and Qin Shihuangdi both established opulent tombs so they could live large in the afterlife. Both succeeded to the extent that theyre now rock stars of historical arts. With joint tickets available, the two exhibits will deservedly raise the citys cultural profile, as long as you can see past the unfortunate term Tutlanta.
FULL TITLE OF SHOW
LENGTH OF REIGN
Tut: 13331324 B.C., although the exhibit includes pieces from pharaohs spanning 2600-600 B.C.
Emperor: 221-210 B.C., but that just includes unified China; he ruled Chinas Qin state starting in 247 B.C.
DISCOVERY OF TOMB
Tut: In 1922 by archeologist Howard Carter, who probably never let his colleagues hear the end of it.
Emperor: In 1974 by local farmers, who were probably pretty surprised to discover an underground chamber full of heavily armed terracotta soldiers.
# PIECES IN EXHIBIT
Tut: More than 130 artifacts, with 50 from Tuts tomb and 70 from other pharaohs
Emperor: 100 works, including 15 terracotta figures, most which are life-size
BASIC FLOOR SCHEME
Tut: Introductory artifacts from the other pharaohs places Tut in historical context, while the progression to darker, dramatically lit rooms (annex, treasury, burial chamber) evokes Carters discovery of the tomb.
Emperor: A similar but smaller-scale build-up to the tombs interior, with the placement of the terracotta warriors and chariots offering a visual punch.
PRIDE OF PLACE
Tut: As you leave, you see a quartzite colossus of Tutankhamun, which proves mighty impressive despite a broken torso.
Emperor: As you enter, you see a kneeling terracotta archer crafted with considerable personality and detail.
FACTS FOR YOUR FRIENDS
Tut: Tut became Pharaoh when he was 9-10 years old and married his half-sister when he was 12, suggesting how much Egypts 18th dynasty was like Dynasty, the night-time soap opera.
Emperor: Hundreds of thousands of laborers spent more than 30 years building a tomb complex that features 600 pits and spans 23 square miles that we know of.
NET EFFECT OF ARTIFACTS
Tut: In a word, bling. Especially in the tomb section, where the preponderance of precious metals and jewelry including gold sandals and finger and toe protectors suggests how much the Egyptians went for conspicuous consumption. You cant help but wonder how much you could get for the pieces on the street.
Emperor: Practicality. While the terracotta figures wouldve served Qin in the afterlife, the presence of building materials, coins and standardized weights and measures emphasizes functionality. You suspect that Qin got a lot done in a day.
Tut: Neat-o CT scan imagery shows what mummies look like under their wrappers and offers clues to Tuts death.
Emperor: Contemporary sculpture shows workers going through the arduous steps of creating a terracotta warrior and horse.
Tut: Limestone sarcophagus, probably for a cat, that resembles a cement dog house
Emperor: An animal coffin for precious pets, probably birds
Tut: Stone toilet seat, because even a pharaoh cant have the servants go to the bathroom for him.
Emperor: Bronze coins, reminding you that, no matter who was unifying the continent, someone had to pay for all this.
Tut: Girls will probably coo over the golden collars. Boys will probably Ew! over the details about the Egyptian royals weird elongated skulls.
Emperor: Boys will probably covet the lances, crossbows and other weapons. Girls will probably prefer the half-scale reproduction of the horse-drawn chariots. They look like ponies!
CAN I HAVE ONE?
Tut: Four gorgeous, miniature canopic coffinettes that contained Tuts various internal organs and would be perfect for Barbie-as-Tomb Raider play.
Emperor: Limestone armor made of countless, exquisitely detailed pieces linked together, which would really impress them at Medieval Times.
Tut: The dignified statue of Queen Nofret features feet that seem disproportionately big, like she had man feet.
Emperor: Pressed circles and the detailed soles of the archers footwear convey the artist's perfectionism.
IMPLIED ATTITUDE TOWARD THE AFTERLIFE
Tut: Whos to say that I wont need my gold finger and toe protectors even after Im dead?
Emperor: Its good to have several thousand soldiers and other servants, because they can have each other to talk to if they get bored.
Tut: 90-second introductory film at entrance, plus the exhibit includes the 22-minute 3-D film Egypt 3D: Secrets of the Mummies, which is sort of like CSI: Mummies! with kitschy historical recreations.
Emperor: Three minute silent recap of Qin's historical importance on constant loop.
BIGGEST SIGN OF AMERICAN POP FAME
Tut: Steve Martins 1978 novelty song King Tut
Emperor: The 2008 film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, although the vogue for mummies as movie monsters pretty much derives from Carters discovery, so Tut really wins.
world class stuff for a world class city
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